Squatters’ fire-ravaged drug den to be bought by Islington Council

A house that had been turned into a drug den by squatters before it caught fire may be subject to a forced purchase following a council meeting tonight (Thursday).

The property in Fonthill Road, Finsbury Park, has been empty since 2006, when the owner was taken into a care home.

Since then, despite efforts from the relatives, different groups of squatters have moved in and allegedly used the house as a crack den, as well as growing cannabis on the premises.

A relative of the owner, who wishes to remain nameless, said that he had received little support from the police and that Islington Council had tried to bill the family for five year’s outstanding council tax.

He said: “We told the police about it, but they said it was a civil matter. Then we told the council, but they said they couldn’t help us either. We contacted the utility companies but they said they couldn’t shut the gas and electric off.

“We put anti-climb paint up to stop them getting in, but the police told us we had to put signs up to warn the squatters, as if one of them hurt themselves they could sue us. I wasn’t very happy about that.”

The house caught fire in May last year and has been boarded up ever since.

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Now, at a meeting of the executive, an application for a compulsory purchase order may be considered.

Cllr James Murray, executive member for housing, said: “This building has been left empty and is an eyesore – we are now seeking a CPO since the owner has not been able to bring it back into use.”

“I understand the owner has accepted this is the most appropriate course of action. The council will give the current market value for the property as set by the Valuation Office Agency and one that reflects its current condition.

“We hope to sell on the building to a housing association, to provide much needed affordable housing for families on Islington’s waiting list.”